XNN https://xkestrel.com The student news site of Xavier High School Sun, 08 Mar 2020 22:02:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 National Jazz Festival Debuts in Philadelphia https://xkestrel.com/3677/news/national-jazz-festival-debuts-in-philadelphia/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://xkestrel.com/3677/news/national-jazz-festival-debuts-in-philadelphia/#respond Fri, 06 Mar 2020 19:16:33 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=3677

On Saturday, February 15, 2020, the National Jazz Festival (NJF) made its official debut in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Under the leadership of Joe Bongiovi, who is the director of the Philadelphia Jazz Orchestra, the band director at Princeton High School in New Jersey, and the President of the New Jersey Association Of Jazz Educators (NJAJE), NJF aims to become the major national jazz festival in the country. This would fill the vacancy left by the Berklee High School Jazz Festival (HSJF), which, up until this year, was the largest high school jazz festival in America. Unfortunately, as of January 26, 2019, HSJF has been suspended. Its host, the Berklee College of Music, will redirect funds from the festival to an initiative that will financially support the education of Berklee undergraduate students.

The Berklee High School Jazz Festival, originally called the New England High School Stage Band Festival, was founded in the spring of 1969 by former Berklee president Lee Eliot Berk. This initial festival was attended by 21 bands from the New England region. Since then, HSJF had experienced tremendous growth over its half-century history. Last year marked the 51th annual High School Jazz Festival. Approximately 208 ensembles, 53 adjudicators, several clinicians, and over 3,000 student musicians participated in that festival, which was held at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts. All events were free and open to the public, and participating ensembles divided into competing categories determined by school size performed throughout the day. The day’s events included performances by Berklee faculty, tours of Berklee’s campus, open jam sessions, etc. With the absence of HSJF, the National Jazz Festival has large shoes to fill.

The Xavier Jazz Band was one of the 43 schools that attended the National Jazz Festival this year. NJF largely adopted the same structure of Berklee, and members of the Xavier Jazz Band who went to both NJF this year and HSJF in the past commented on the similarities of the two festivals. As the major jazz festival that the Xavier Jazz Band attends during the school year, NJF presents opportunities for young musicians to not only engage in some friendly competition, but also immerse themselves in a day of jazz and gain inspiration for their own playing by attending clinics, listening to other jazz bands’ performances, and receiving constructive criticism from judges who review the performances. Although NJF did not have as many participating schools as HSJF, many Xavier musicians commented on its successful debut. According to Soti Paul ’24, NJF was “an immersive experience with many fun clinics and shows that were set up.” Joseph Marcin ’20 said that it also helped to “further expand [his] own musical knowledge of jazz.”

Xavier faced some stiff competition this year, and placed seventh out of nine schools in the large ensemble L-2 division. In previous years, the Xavier Jazz Band had gone to HSJF, which was a larger festival. As a new festival, NJF had less participating schools; thus, it merged some of the divisions that were present in Berklee, causing Xavier to get mixed in with schools that would normally be in a higher division. With that in consideration, Xavier did relatively well, especially since Xavier scored a mere three points less than the fifth place band. Xavier has had a good record in Berklee festivals in the past, having placed second in 2013 and third in 2015. Given that the jazz band has a majority of strong, undergraduate players, the band has a lot of potential to score higher in upcoming years.

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A Prayer a Day Keeps the Doctor Away? https://xkestrel.com/3655/opinions/a-prayer-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://xkestrel.com/3655/opinions/a-prayer-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away/#respond Sat, 29 Feb 2020 04:08:10 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=3655

The medical evidence is clear: experiments have illustrated a causal relationship between a diet heavy in vegetables and fruits and defense against diabetes, heart disease (the biggest killer in America), and even poor mental health conditions like depression, all of which reduce the quality of life and life expectancy. Still, the solution to increasing a plateauing Western life expectancy (or in the case of the US, a decreasing one) is not as “simple” as changing one’s diet (which may be difficult to do social norms and expectations) because one’s health is inextricably linked to one’s psychological well-being and a whole host of socioeconomic and cultural barriers. Even as medical providers have worked on addressing, to some success, their tunnel-vision approach of targeting one aspect of a patient, the biochemical component, without viewing how the patient integrates into a much larger sociological context, one social determinant of health has remained largely ignored: one’s religious identity.

Interestingly, this aspect of one’s personal life seemingly unrelated to health has been found to be correlated to longer life expectancy in what health psychologists deem the faith factor, even when covariates are controlled for. The data, which first emerged in the 1990s, were striking; those in Israeli religiously orthodox collective settlements suffered half the mortality rates of the secular control group, a result that has since been replicated, albeit to a somewhat reduced extent, in longitudinal studies that concluded that, after controlling for health risk factors, nurses attending Church services weekly had a third lower mortality rate than those never attending. Critics are quick to (accurately) point out that these studies rely on correlations, which do not indicate a causal relationship, but the reality is that religion, even when age, gender, ethnicity, and unhealthy behaviors like alcohol consumption and smoking are controlled for, still predicts significant group variations. So why does this curious relationship exist in the first place?

The first point to emphasize is that one’s mental health, which is benefited by a belief in a benevolent higher-power, is connected to one’s physical health. Landmark psychological studies have concluded strong (even causal) relationships between stress and vulnerability to disease and speed of physical healing, as well as associations between various personality traits (aggression vs relaxation, competition vs easygoingness) and risk of a heart attack. One’s sense of spirituality fits nicely into this niche despite the lack of abundant quantitative data; those who feel loved by a caring God are more likely to have an internal locus of control (believe that they are in control of their own destiny through free will) and are buoyed by optimism and hope (theirs is a reassuring God who will provide them with an afterlife of eternal bliss). People of faith learn especially to channel these beliefs while in prayer and meditation, which, as experimental and correlational studies indicate, strengthen neural connections between brain regions, reduce activation in the amygdala (the brain region responsible for responses of anxiety and hostility) and increase activation in the prefrontal cortex (the region of the frontal lobe that is responsible for higher-level cognitive functioning, including emotional regulation), and calm the brain in emotional situations. In times of stress, these qualities, as well as the immense social connectedness that being part of a faith community provides, help make people more resilient with better immune system functioning and reduced anxiety; the moderation that religion inculcates in a person by stressing obedience and respect to a deity’s wishes further accentuates this effect by promoting reduced smoking and drinking in the religious.

As scientifically minded observers (and hopefully leaders of such research), we should use this knowledge to improve patient well-being on a population level for all religious groups. Clearly, in addition, to support good mental and physical health, one’s religion mediates the way he or she interprets health offerings and responds behaviorally to potential treatment plans, and thus the medical community must evaluate its effects whenever considering new treatment plans. Given that resistance to fertility treatment, vaccines, and blood transfusions are all interconnected to ethnoreligious groups’ perception of medicine and spirituality, physicians, alongside nurses, nurse practitioners, PAs, public health workers, and more, must conduct personal, intimate dialogue with the religious leaders whose proscriptions and prescriptions pay such a crucial rule in dictating health outcomes. Only by acknowledging patients’ spiritual needs, especially in times of religious significance like birth, sickness, and death, can we be equipped to make evidence-based medicine patient-centered for a modernizing world.


Meyers Psychology for the AP Course: Third Edition



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Xavier Smite Team Seeks to Lengthen Its Undefeated Record https://xkestrel.com/3636/sports/xavierteampreviews/xavier-smite-team-seeks-to-lengthen-its-undefeated-record/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://xkestrel.com/3636/sports/xavierteampreviews/xavier-smite-team-seeks-to-lengthen-its-undefeated-record/#respond Thu, 27 Feb 2020 14:44:39 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=3636

The Xavier Smite team made its debut in the 2019-2020 school year, joining the ranks of Xavier’s two other esports teams: Rocket League and League of Legends. After failing to establish the Smite team the previous school year, captains Steven Pepler ’20 and Jakob Slason ’20 managed to recruit three other seniors (Emad Cheema, Hyun Lee, and Terence O’Brian) to cap off the starting lineup, with Fabian Morales ’20 as a substitute. Aidan Lynch ’20 was the team manager.

The Smite, Rocket League, and League of Legends teams are all a part of their respective PlayVS leagues. PlayVS is a startup company established in 2017 by Delane Parnell. Dedicated to erecting infrastructure for high school esports, it provides an official platform through which esports athletes can form teams and take part in competitions. Through PlayVS, Parnell taps into the fastest growing high school sport, aiding its rise to new heights. In the upcoming spring season, PlayVS will add Fortnite to its list of esports leagues, having signed an agreement with Riot Games, the developer of Fortnite.

Smite is a free-to-play, third-person multiplayer online battle arena video game developed and published by Hi-Rez Studios. The playable characters are gods and mythological beings from a highly diverse array of pantheons. The main game mode, Conquest (in which the PlayVS matches were played), consists of three lanes: Solo, Mid, and Duo. The five roles are Solo (Lee), Mid (Cheema), ADC (Pepler), Support (O’Brian), and Jungle (Slason). The two teams start on opposite sides of the map. Both sides of the map consist of three tier one towers (one in each lane), three tier two towers, three phoenixes, and one titan, in order of closest to the middle to the farthest out. The object of the game is the destroy the opposing team’s titan. Strategies involve builds (buying items to obtain an advantage), counter-builds (buying items that counter the affects of enemy builds), warding (to see enemy movements on the map), and securing objectives like towers and the Fire Giant, all of which contribute to the intricacies the game.

The fall season for Smite began in late November with 52 competing teams from all over the Eastern United States. Each match-up consisted of two to three games (best of three), averaging slightly over 20 minutes. Despite the fact that this was the Xavier Smite team’s first season, and that two of the seniors had never even played Smite until recently, the team surpassed expectations and entered playoffs undefeated and in the top seed. Playoffs was a single-elimination tournament, where the loser of each match-up is immediately eliminated. The first game of playoffs was on Thursday, January 9, 2020, against dogChamp of Denmark High School, located in Denmark, Wisconsin. After securing their first win in playoffs, the Smite team eventually made it to finals, which took place on January 30. Finals were against Cheshire High School; coincidentally, both teams in the final were from Connecticut. Marking the conclusion of what could possibly be the latest “fall season” of any sport, Xavier finally emerged as the Fall 2019 Eastern Smite Championship winners, boasting an undefeated season with a record of 16-0.

The Xavier Smite Team is eager to defend their reputations in the upcoming season. The first game of the Spring 2020 season will take place on February 27. As it was in the fall season, all games will take place Thursdays at 4 PM, in the computer lab located on the second floor of Xavier High School.

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How the Nature vs Nurture Debate Contradicts Free Will https://xkestrel.com/3512/uncategorized/how-the-nature-vs-nurture-debate-contradicts-catholic-theology/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://xkestrel.com/3512/uncategorized/how-the-nature-vs-nurture-debate-contradicts-catholic-theology/#respond Thu, 27 Feb 2020 13:23:37 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=3512

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the psychological argument I have alluded to in the title, the nature versus nurture debate is an intellectual conflict that has been waged across various fields of study (including, but not limited to, biology, psychology, and philosophy) since the mid-1800s. The dispute is centered around whether human behavior is determined by the environment that one is exposed to since his or her conception or by predetermined factors like genes, a matter on which scientists and thinkers seem to have been unable to develop a consensus over the past 200-or-so years. Though the debate is a topic that my mind has frequently revisited, my key concern about nature versus nurture pertains not to which side of the argument is correct. Rather, I fear that the very idea of the debate presents a direct contradiction to the Catholic perception of free will and its effects on our ultimate destination. Yes, I know this seems like a radical and heretical suggestion, but please hear me out.

The Descartist within me seems to be calling me to declare that everything I have been taught was “built on sand” and that I must raze the building of knowledge that defines my intuition and start from the very beginning, so that is exactly what I shall do. I will start with what I can reasonably assume to be true: human action is either entirely dependent upon nature, entirely dependent upon nurture, or somewhere in between. Can everybody agree upon this as a reasonable, logical suggestion? Yes? Okay, I’m glad we are all in agreement.

Allow me to use two unnamed Chicago teenagers, whom Fox News tells me are the most recently charged murderers in the U.S. at the time of this sentence’s formation, as pawns in my argument. The two young men were among four males who attempted to hold up a local convenience store; after they took cash from the register by force, owner Mohammed Maali took out his gun and fired shots before he was fatally wounded by the suspects’ return fire.

For the sake of the argument, let’s temporarily adopt the biological approach to the nature versus nurture debate and assume that the two teenagers’ actions were a result of their genetically inherited personality traits, preferences, and levels of intelligence, as well as their innate, biological drive for aggression. If we hold this as true (and we currently do), we cannot preach against these men’s actions without indulging in the vice of hypocrisy. Believing that all human activity is determined by hereditary factors mandates the denial of free will, for man cannot maintain any sovereignty over his conduct if each of his actions is already decided by his genetics. According to nature, the homicidal actions of the two young men were inevitable – they did not choose the genes that ultimately drove them to commit murder. Their rash personalities, which prompted them to return fire at the store’s owner, were predetermined before they even entered into the world as fully formed humans and especially before they developed their cognitions. This considered, how can a just God punish the pair and subject them to eternal torment in Hell when their actions were merely a result of their loss in the genetic lottery? Well, that’s the problem. He can’t.

So, we’ve established that the nature argument and free will cannot coexist without contradiction. Let’s try nurture instead. The central idea behind the nurture side of the debate is the belief that all human action is a direct result of the environment one is exposed to, both prenatal and post-birth. Our minds begin as blank slates and are slowly shaped by the experiences we undergo. These same experiences are the arbiters of our first “independent” actions when we gain the ability to reason and make calculated choices. After this, the consequences of our behavior begin to play a major role in our growth, and we begin to have some influence over how we mature.

It is easy to get wrapped up in the façade of mental autonomy, but we mustn’t overlook that even the small dominion over our growth that we are awarded does not really belong to us. While we do “control” our actions, it is all our prior conditioning, which we have no control over, that prompts us to act. Because the only things affecting our character growth until we make our first “conscious choice” are uncontrollable factors, our first choice is really chosen for us by our environment. Thus, the effects that first choice has on our development, and the effects of every choice that follows, are technically out of our control.

A good example to supplement this argument is how most people react to a pre-teen’s misbehavior. If a 6th grader hits his classmate, most people don’t think “That child is inherently evil,” because…he isn’t. He probably never learned how to properly express his emotions, and it is possible that he has grown up in a family environment where such behavior is acceptable. However, if that same child grows up to beat his wife and children, we react quite differently and say that he is a “bad man” and a “depraved man” or something of the like. So, when does this man stop being a product of uncontrollable circumstances he has been exposed to? Does some hidden switch flip in between his childhood and his adulthood, causing him to magically obtain his free will? Well, according to the nature side of the debate, no. His actions, even as an adult, are the results of prior occurrences. Remember, he started out as a blank slate and then was slowly formed by his environment. The effects of this formation don’t spontaneously disappear upon entrance to adulthood.

Now, obviously, this man has significantly more control over his actions as an adult and can always choose not to hit his wife and not to beat his kids – he had “free will,” so to speak. Where nurture and Catholicism come into conflict is the question of why this man chooses either (1) to continue to hit his wife and children, or (2) to restrain himself. The nurture argument outsources this choice to (surprise!) prior conditioning. The deciding factor between whether this man remains a wife-beater or changes his habits could be something small that everybody else would overlook – maybe he overhears a stranger’s conversation about the barbarity of domestic violence, is prompted to reconsider his actions, and chooses option 2. Or maybe not, and he chooses option 1. Either one is entirely possible; what is important is that, in both cases, he does not control the factors that determine his actions.

Objection, your honor!

Catholicism objects: this man cannot be operating of his own volition and exercising his free will if his environment has the ultimate say in whether or not and how he acts. Nurture attributes this choice to chance. There’s a big issue here: man doesn’t control chance.

Just as committing two wrongs doesn’t make a right, combining nature and nurture will not accommodate the debate to free will. Though the likely reality, and the belief that most people espouse, is that some combination of nature and nurture determines all human action, altering the scope of either’s influence on man will not change the fact that both present a direct contradiction to Catholic theology. No matter how much gravity we attribute to each factor, we will never control what traits and qualities we inherit through our genes, nor how we are shaped by our environment. Thus, as is true with each element alone, the belief that a combination of nature and nurture determines all human action is antithetical to free will.

Now, please do not misunderstand my intentions, dear reader. I mean not to disprove or oppose the existence of Heaven; I only seek intellectual discourse upon an obstacle that I have struggled to bypass in my journey of faith. However, I am aware that Martin Luther, who is perhaps the most famous heretic in the Church’s long history, supposedly cited the same motives in his rejection of Catholic doctrine, and I also know that my suggestions sound eerily similar to John Calvin’s predestination theory. If Dante Alighieri were alive today, he would probably say that both men are burning in a coffin for all eternity in the Sixth Circle of Hell, which is a fate I would rather like to avoid. Even the thought of suffering forever at the hands of Dante’s inferno, though, cannot force me to ignore the fact that free will, as it is endorsed by Catholicism, simply seems impossible to reconcile with any facet of nature versus nurture.

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The Reality of the Australian Wildfires https://xkestrel.com/3422/news/worldnews/the-reality-of-the-australian-wildfires/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://xkestrel.com/3422/news/worldnews/the-reality-of-the-australian-wildfires/#respond Thu, 27 Feb 2020 13:21:30 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=3422

Our year started off with a bang. Wildfires, the Coronavirus, tensions between Iran and the United States. So much has happened in the first two months of the new year. Fortunately, the conflict between Iran and the United States has died down, but that is only one of so many terrible issues that have been resolved. The Coronavirus seems to be growing even worse, and many are beginning to worry that it will be the next big epidemic. However, that is an issue for another time. First, I must tell you about the Australian wildfires. They are a severe threat to our planet, and it is fortunate that the worst of them seem over. As we saw in January, the devastation was terrible, but February brings both good and bad news regarding the blaze: most of the fires are extinguished, but the effects are catastrophic. However, before one can understand the effects, one must first learn the background of the fires.

When Did the Fires Begin?

Early in September, reports of wildfires in Australia sprung up all over the news. They were alarming, but nothing like what was seen in January. Before January, casual stories were published, mentioning the evacuations of certain areas, but the reality of the fires failed to sink in until January.

What Started the Fires?

There is a lot of debate regarding the cause of the fires, but it is believed to be us humans. Police have taken legal action against hundreds of people, claiming that they are the cause for the inferno ravaging Australia. However, the drought Australia has been facing has greatly exacerbated the situation. With the dry weather that Australia has been facing, the smallest flame could cause the next firestorm. The dryness means that the flames are difficult to extinguish, and due to the consistency of Australia’s drought, the wildfires have become extreme. Also, the Australian winds helped spread the fires, introducing the flames to previously safe areas.

How Bad Are the Fires?

Bad. The wildfires are the worst Australia has seen in some time. In fact, the fires grew to be so dangerous that Australia declared a state of emergency on January 31st. The environment has suffered tremendously from the fires, and many fear that Australian wildlife will be unable to make a comeback. All in all, millions of acres of land have been lost, thousands of houses have burnt down, and many humans and animals have perished because of the flames.

While speaking of what has been destroyed, one must think about all the buildings and land razed by the fires. Near fifty million acres of Australian wilderness have been ruined by the inferno. That is nearly double the size of South Korea, a country with an area of thirty million square acres. Also, more than ten-thousand buildings have been burned to the ground. Out of those buildings, around three and a half thousand were homes. Fortunately, experts estimate that ninety-five percent of these buildings were insured. However, the total cost of the burned buildings alone is worth around 1.3  billion dollars, a little more than half of the cost associated with the total impact of the fires, but that is still a large sum to pay.

The tragedies mentioned are already terrible, but it only worsens. Many lives were lost because of the inferno. In fact, it is estimated that over a billion animals have died because of the flames. However, the loss of forests has caused other animals to perish because of the destruction of their homes. Fortunately, relief efforts are in place to help relocate the now-homeless and dying animals. Unfortunately, mankind has also suffered casualties. Thirty-four people have died because of the blaze. Out of those thirty-four, three American firefighters died in a plane crash while helping extinguish the burning land. Overall, the wildfires destroyed millions of acres of land which will cost Australia billions in insurance claims alone, and now the flames have taken the lives of over a billion animals and thirty-four humans.

Are the Fires Over Now?

The fires are currently still burning, but rains extinguished around a third of the fires in the first week of February, with many more coming to an end the next week. However, some are still burning, but they are contained by firefighters. Despite taking the lives of so many and damaging so much land, only a few of the blazes remain, a sign that hopefully portends the end of the Australian wildfires (and this article).

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A History of Class Rings https://xkestrel.com/3461/uncategorized/a-history-of-class-rings/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://xkestrel.com/3461/uncategorized/a-history-of-class-rings/#respond Thu, 27 Feb 2020 13:04:58 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=3461

On Friday, January 31, the Junior class celebrated the long cherished tradition of the Ring Ceremony. With a beautiful mass celebrated by Father Ernie, the class of 2021 was able to bond over prayer, fruit punch, and chortles about the diminutive size of the rings. However, not all were in favor. Many expressed wonder about why such a ceremony exists. After wondering this myself, I took the opportunity to research and publish my findings.

The tradition was begun by West Point Military Academy in 1835. To this day, Senior cadets receive the rings towards the beginning of the year. Each part of the ring was able to be individualized, a practice that would stop in 1917. The original 1835 class rings from the West Point military schools soon inspired high school administrators and jewelry companies alike. In 1879, cuff links were sported in lieu of the ring. Ever since 1917, however, the class ring has remained the same at the collegiate level.

The tradition’s history in high schools varies from state to state, but there are some common denominators to the rite of passage. Most religious high schools celebrate the bestowal of class rings with a liturgical mass and a blessing. In addition, both religious and secular high schools participate in other ring-related traditions. Many schools host a dance to complement the ring ceremony, although it’s confirmed there was no dancing in the Xavier café.

Another tradition involves the actual wearing of the ring. It is considered good luck to wear the ring facing your body while you are still a high school student. Once graduation day arrives, turning the ring to face the outside world is a symbolic gesture of adulting. Another popular tradition involves having friends, family and loved ones turn the ring toward the right for the number of times in the year of the student’s graduation. Luckily, the juniors did not endure any skin irritations for this practice.


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Las Vegas Democratic Debate: A Party Deeply Divided https://xkestrel.com/3572/news/las-vegas-democratic-debate-a-party-deeply-divided/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://xkestrel.com/3572/news/las-vegas-democratic-debate-a-party-deeply-divided/#respond Thu, 27 Feb 2020 12:57:33 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=3572

In this day and age, it is an indubitable truth that political discourse has been glamorized. Campaigns devise catchy slogans to grab voters’ attention, candidates make wild claims about one another, and the truth very often gets buried under a cloak of subterfuge and insinuations. Candidates sometimes find it difficult to keep up in this highly charged atmosphere, where one must constantly be ready for the next attack from a colleague who considers them a threat. This kind of atmosphere is exemplified and displayed to the nation most blatantly on the presidential primary debate stage. Six leading candidates assembled on a stage, and rather than bolstering the case for their suitability to take on Donald Trump, they each took turns tearing each other down. The purpose of the primary debates is for candidates to more clearly outline their policy proposals so that voters might more clearly discern which candidate would best represent them and their party on the presidential ticket come November. This debate, however seemed to serve a dual purpose of exposing a Democratic field of candidates rife with disparities in their vision of our country’s future.

Fielding questions about his perceived lack of experience and concerns over his electibility, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg denounced two of his primary opponents, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “We’ve got to wake up as a party,” Buttigieg said, before laying out his hypothetical future of the 2020 campaign. He predicts a narrowing down of the field the day after Super Tuesday, leaving only Mr. Sanders and Mr. Bloomberg on the stage. He then proceeded to explain the potential detriment this could pose to winning the general election, stating “Most Americans don’t see where they fit if they’ve got to choose between a socialist who thinks that capitalism is the root of all evil and a billionaire who thinks money ought to be the root of all power.” He then made a bold proposal: “Let’s put forward somebody who’s actually a Democrat,” a statement that received mixed reactions from the audience.

While Buttigieg’s proposal seems simple, it is easier said than done, especially within such a diverse field of candidates. Surely, it is going to be difficult for voters to put forward an actual Democrat if no one knows what an actual Democrat stands for. Meanwhile, as desparation grows, so will the aggression of the candidates’ attacks on one another. Buttigieg finds himself fighting a war on two fronts, between two very different candidates. Most of his night was spent characterizing the current frontrunner Bernie Sanders as a foolhardy idealogue whose rigid and uncompromising nature will make him unappealing to noncommitted voters. In addition, Buttigieg repeatedly traded barbs with Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, an opponent he is looking to push out of the centrist lane of the race. He specifically honed in on Klobuchar’s inability to name the Mexican president when asked by a reporter for Telemundo. When pressed, Klobuchar admitted it was a mistake. But Buttigieg was not satisfied, telling her “You’re staking your candidacy on your Washington experience. You’re on the committee that oversees border security. You’re on the committee that does trade. You’re literally part of the committee that’s overseeing these things. And you were not able to speak to literally the first thing about the politics of the country to our south?”

Klobuchar appeared slightly flustered by these attacks, and in response aggressively hammered home Buttigieg’s lack of experience as a national candidate as well as a member of Congress. She touted her electoral success, calling herself a “proven winner” who could take on Donald Trump and emerge victorious. Klobuchar contrasted this record with Buttigieg’s, whose 2010 bid for Indiana state treasurer culminated in him losing to Republican Richard Mourdock by nearly 25 percentage points. Buttigieg’s retort was that “If winning a race for Senate in Minnesota translated directly into becoming president, I would have grown up under the presidency of Walter Mondale.” Mondale was the Democratic candidate for president in 1984, losing to Ronald Reagan in an electoral landslide. Buttigieg further continued to assail Klobuchar’s record on immigration, pointing out numerous Senate votes where Klobuchar seemingly broke party ranks, such as the votes for the head of Customs and Border Protection, as well as Trump judges, and voting to make English the national language. Klobuchar, now visibly agitated, remarked “I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete,” before explaining the context behind those votes. She first informed him that she had in fact voted against 2/3 of the Trump judges, and advised him to get his numbers right. Klobuchar also clarified that the customs officer in question, Mark A. Morgan, was supported by half the Senate Democratic Caucus and was recommended by the Obama administration to fill that position.

From Buttigieg’s castigation of her record, Senator Klobuchar found an unlikely ally in Elizabeth Warren. After the exchange about Mexico’s president, Senator Warren interjected to say, “Missing a name all by itself does not indicate that you do not understand what’s going on, and I just think this is unfair.” Warren dominated the debate stage, delivering striking answers and compelling challenges to her fellow candidates on stage. Warren took aim at Senate Colleague Bernie Sanders, as well as billionaire Mike Bloomberg. She harshly criticized Bloomberg’s reputation for treating female employees poorly, as well as his stratagem of using his fortune to buy his way through the primaries, claiming that the debate showed a glimpse of the real Mike Bloomberg, and not the one he has spent millions in ad revenue to create. As this facade begins to fade, voters will most likely be convinced by attacks that paint him as opportunistic and out-of-touch. As entertaining as it was to watch the candidates pile on to Bloomberg, it was a tactic that was not lacking in drawbacks. Among them, the most significant is that Bernie Sanders went into the debate as a frontrunner. With most Democrats’ attacks focused on Bloomberg, he was able to emerge from this debate relatively unscathed.

Perhaps the only candidate who fared worse than Bloomberg in Wednesday’s debate was Joe Biden, whose campaign is practically on life support. He came in fifth in the New Hampshire primary on February 11, a sure sign that his bedrock support among African American voters is beginning to crumble, especially in light of Barack Obama’s recent endorsement of Mr. Bloomberg. Biden’s lackluster aptitude for debate was clearly evident Wednesday, where he was overshadowed by most other candidates on stage. He is simply not emerging as the unified centrist he was angling himself to be early on. This is crucial, as this is exactly the kind of figure  that the Democratic Party needs to embrace in order to achieve victory in November. At this point, that figure still has yet to emerge.

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Colter Abely: An Inspiring Team Player https://xkestrel.com/3488/sports/colter-abely-an-inspiring-team-player/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://xkestrel.com/3488/sports/colter-abely-an-inspiring-team-player/#respond Thu, 20 Feb 2020 13:32:11 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=3488

On January 18, Xavier sponsored the Colter Abely Wrestling Tournament. Six out of the top ten teams in Connecticut attended, but that did not stop the Xavier team from claiming the victory. The tournament is a very important part of sport, but some people may ask how it started, and who Colter Abely is. Those questions will soon be answered with information provided by the wrestling coach, Mr. Cunningham.

Colter Abely was a student at Xavier High School and a valued member of the wrestling team. On top of being a good wrestler, Colter was an even better team player. He wanted to ensure the success of his teammates and he clearly valued the success of the team over his own personal gain. His ability to help others improve was certainly evident during his time at Xavier.

Colter graduated Xavier in 2010. Unfortunately, in 2012, a car accident led to his untimely demise. However, his memory did not die with him. The Abely family donated the entirety of the weight room equipment to the school that same year. If one takes the time to observe the entrance to the room, they will find a plaque in the family’s honor.

However, the weight room equipment is not the only thing by which Colter is remembered. Each year, one wrestler receives a $1000 scholarship in honor of Colter Abely. But that is just the start. In 2015, an annual winter wrestling tournament was started, and an annual golf tournament would be held in the spring. But one of the most important forms in which Colter Abely is immortalized is in the Colter Abely Team Man Award. This award is to the wrestler who values the success and improvement of the team over his own gain, just like Colter Abely himself.

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Does Rush Limbaugh Deserve the Presidential Medal of Freedom? https://xkestrel.com/3515/opinions/does-rush-limbaugh-deserve-the-presidential-medal-of-freedom/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://xkestrel.com/3515/opinions/does-rush-limbaugh-deserve-the-presidential-medal-of-freedom/#respond Thu, 13 Feb 2020 19:27:32 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=3515

Among the many notable guests that the president hosted at the last State of the Union address, one stands out above all others. That man is Rush Limbaugh, a conservative commentator whose recent lung cancer diagnosis has brought him into the spotlight yet again. Surely, I do not mean to suggest that Limbaugh’s career has distinguished him. Rather, it is the honor that he received during the address that set him apart. The moment Mr. Trump took during his speech to describe Limbaugh as a “winner” and the “greatest fighter” before awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom was manufactured to be memorable. It was met with great acclamation from the chamber, specifically from those on the right side of the aisle.

Limbaugh has run the nationally syndicated Rush Limbaugh Show since 1988. No tyro to controversy, his vitriolic rhetoric made him popular with the bucolic crowd of Middle America. As seen when he gleefully christened Barack Obama “Halfrican American” in the heat of the 2008 campaign, this is man has made a career out of calumniating politicians with whom he did not agree using racist stereotypes and innuendos. Now awarded America’s most prestigious civilian award, he finds himself among the few in the nation that have been deemed worthy of such a refulgent honor, among them Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, and Rosa Parks.

Limbaugh, appropriately dubbed 2012 “Misinformer of the Year” by Media Matters, follows the typical conservative playbook of vacillating between two seemingly contradictory characteristics. The first concerning an insufferable kind of pedantry, like when he can cite statistics off the top of his head that seem to suggest black males are more likely to drown in pools than whites. The other is an unremitting criticism of his perceived enemies, usually peppered with racist stereotypes and epithets. This may appear to be a harsh characterization, but when it is revealed to be about a man who repeatedly referred to NBA players as “thugs”, it becomes evident this is not the case.

Over the years, Limbaugh has proven himself to be insensitive about so much more than racial issues. He has also made light of people with debilitating diseases, as well as women fighting for equal access to healthcare. In one 2006 segment of his show, he denigrated actor Michael J. Fox, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Limbaugh reacted to this news by breaking into a mock paroxysm and shaking violently after accusing him of exaggerating its effects. He also referred to law student Sandra Fluke as a “prostitute” and “slut” after she had addressed Congress to advocate for a bill that would mandate birth control being covered by insurance at religious institutions.

The White House states that the Medal of Freedom is bestowed upon those “individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” Limbaugh was thanked for his “decades of tireless devotion to our country.” Just which of his paltry contributions to our country he is being honored for remains an open question. Perhaps it is the death of the civil discourse his radio show inches us closer to every day, or it may be his role in disseminating the idea that “race riots” were a part of the Obama administration’s plan for America.

Trump has gone on record stating that he enjoys granting the nation’s highest civilian honor to his friends. While there is nothing wrong with this in theory, the president should exercise more prudence in who he chooses to present this award. A man such as Limbaugh quite frankly deserves nothing more than a vituperative condemnation for the manner in which he has conducted himself over the course of his career.

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Kobe Bryant: A Father, Mentor, and Inspiration to All https://xkestrel.com/3497/news/kobe-bryant-a-father-mentor-and-inspiration-to-all/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://xkestrel.com/3497/news/kobe-bryant-a-father-mentor-and-inspiration-to-all/#respond Thu, 13 Feb 2020 15:23:21 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=3497

On Sunday, January 26th, Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven other passengers. This news has devastated the sports world for the past two weeks, as the Lakers’ tribute to Bryant was held last night at Staples Center. Kobe was a hard worker, a dedicated student of the game, and one of the greatest basketball players of all time. The memories he produced on the court will last in our minds forever. Among these are his incredible 81-point game in 2006, his spectacular performance in game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, and his farewell game against the Jazz, in which he dropped 60 points. You can find a million articles on his playing career, but what can often be overlooked about an athlete is what they do off the court. Athletes can use their pivotal position in society for good or for bad, and in most cases, professional sports players use their fame to help others. In Kobe’s case, this was true. He was a father, a mentor, and worked with many charities over his years as a pro and afterward. 

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Kobe was an amazing father to his four daughters. #GirlDad has been trending all over social media because of Kobe, as he was a dad of four girls. His daughter, Gianna, was killed along with him in the accident. Want to know why they were in the helicopter in the first place? To get to Gianna’s tournament. Heartbreaking. “Gigi” played for her father’s team at the Mamba Sports Academy. Kobe would call her “Mambacita”, as she would try to carry on her father’s hoop legacy. She wanted to play for UConn and go to the WNBA. It’s a tragedy we never got to see that happen. Kobe is survived by his three other daughters: Bianka (17 years-old), Bianka (2 years old), and Capri (less than a year old). Kobe was often told he needed a boy to succeed him, but he never seemed to need another guy in the house. He was very content being one of the best girl dads the world has ever seen.

Kobe wasn’t just a great mentor to his daughters, though. From Tatum to Bron, Kyrie to Giannis, Kobe has guided many players to succeed in the NBA. He famously worked with Jayson Tatum over the summer of 2017 after critiquing Tatum in a video of “Detail”, Bryant’s ESPN+ show where he reviewed game film of WNBA and NBA players. Kyrie Irving has also commented that Kobe served as a mentor in his life. According to CBS Sports, Kyrie called Bryant from the Cavs locker room after Cleveland won the 2016 NBA Finals. As for LeBron James, his relationship with Kobe became more of a friendship than an apprenticeship when James became a Laker and solidified his place as an NBA legend. They could often be seen shaking hands or exchanging laughs at Lakers games. The bond shared between Kobe and LeBron was palpable. LeBron spoke at Bryant’s Staples Center memorial last Friday. His words were truly heartbreaking. As for Giannis, he asked Kobe for a basketball-related challenge over Twitter. Kobe’s response? “MVP”. Giannis won NBA MVP the next season. However, Kobe’s influence was not just in the world of basketball. Tennis star Novak Djokovic has cited Bryant as one of his closest advisors recently. Soccer phenoms such as Neymar have paid tribute to Kobe during their matches. It’s easy to see how much of an impact Bryant had on the sports world just by reading about all of the athletes he touched over the years. 

Along with being a father and mentor, Kobe was a charitable man. According to The Undefeated, Kobe worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation on over 100 occasions, and that was just the beginning of his works. He was a frequent part of the work of the NBA Cares foundation. He was the spokesman of groups like After-School All-Stars (which provided after-school opportunities for children) and Aid Still Required (which provided natural disaster relief). Plus, he started the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation with his wife. They raised over $2.5 million for minority college students and scholarships for the Mamba Sports Academy, which Kobe launched in 2018. Finally, after Kobe’s death, The Mamba On Three Foundation was created “to honor and support loved ones of the seven other victims involved in the tragedy that occurred on January 26, 2020.” I could write a whole article just listing Kobe’s charity work.

On top of all this, Kobe won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 2018. The film, called Dear Basketball, is built on the letter Bryant wrote to The Players’ Tribune addressing his retirement. Kobe also wrote a book called “Mamba Mentality” and a book series called Wizenard. Both are highly-acclaimed works.

So, today and every day, we mourn the loss of Kobe Bean Bryant. We can talk about his accomplishments on the court for hours on end, but we can also do the same for his accomplishments off the court. A player. A creator. A mentor. A man of the people. And most importantly, a father and husband. Rest in peace, Mamba. 

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